New team gears up for second FAD cleanup |21 March 2023
As part of preparations for the second upcoming Fish Aggregating Devices cleanup exercise by the Seychelles Coast Guard, a mission briefing was held yesterday morning at the Seychelles Maritime Academy, Providence.
Similar to the first mission between October 18 and 28 last year, the second one will also involve the participation of students from the Seychelles Maritime Academy (SMA) – five compared to two from the previous mission – as well as a lecturer.
Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs) are human-made free-floating platforms equipped with GPS that attract fish, making them easier to catch. They are usually constructed of non-biodegradable materials including nets, ropes and fishing buoys which contribute towards marine pollution.
FADs are anchored, untethered and free to drift on the ocean surface in or around the Seychelles waters. Tuna purse seiners are still deploying these floating objects in large numbers and it is estimated that around 10,000 FADs are deployed annually in the Indian Ocean,
Yesterday’s briefing started with a short presentation by Lieutenant Kurl Elizabeth, the Navigation Officer of the SCG, who displayed the highlights and statistics of the first expedition last year in the Amirantes islands, which saw the participation of 30 personnel and lasted eleven days at sea. Altogether 21 FADs washed ashore were recovered from the islands, including St Joseph, Poivre, Etoile, Boudeuse, Marie Louise, Desnoeufs and Desroches.
The total cost of the last trip was slightly over R1 million, and was partly funded by the European Union.
The chief executive of the Seychelles Fishing Authority, Philippe Michaud, who also attended the briefing, said that with the increase of the use of FADs there is a need to control as well as monitor these activities and follow scientific advice to get an idea on how to improve.
“We are planning to remove these FADs because once they drift onto beaches they will not remove themselves and we want to make sure that eventually we remove all FADs from all the islands,” he said.
The head of fisheries programme at SMA, Michael Barbe, said the expedition will be very beneficial for the students who are presently following their second year Advanced certificate in Fisheries Technology, consisting of a specific topic, which looks at the merits and demerits of FADs.
Second-year student Elna Basset, the only female following the Advanced Certificate in Fisheries Technology, who will be making up the five-member team, described the expedition as a rare opportunity to experience an activity, falling directly under her course.
“Retrieving FADs is new to me and so I am getting the opportunity to be educated more on it,” she said.
The second FAD cleanup expedition will start from March 27 and is expected to last three to four weeks.
Photos by Joena Meme